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Keeping middle class is best way for...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Keeping middle class is best way for city to fight crime

This letter is a response to Councilman Martin O'Malley's article "Zero-tolerance only way to cut homicide rate" (Jan. 12). As a society, we need to realize that zero tolerance has social and economic costs.

It is a mistake to believe that locking people up forever will reduce crime. Prison, as it is structured now, does not rehabilitate. Prisoners eventually return to the community angrier, hardened, less employable and with better knowledge of how to commit crime. The federal and state budgets are straining to fund prisons and inmate upkeep.

The best way to fight crime is not to warehouse criminals. As the councilman suggests, more police may help, but the best way to fight crime is to reverse the flight of the middle-class from the city.

This group of citizens sets a positive example by going to work, keeping their streets clean and not tolerating the criminal element in their neighborhoods. A strong community is more powerful than a legion of police in preventing crime and reducing the homicide rate.

Mr. O'Malley must stop his adversarial, nonproductive relationship with Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier and the Police Department and propose innovative legislation aimed at reversing middle-class flight.

Charles M. Fitzpatrick, Baltimore

Proud of Kweisi Mfume, but he shouldn't be mayor

I read with great interest your article "Bill would clear way for Mfume to run" (Jan. 7). While I am proud of Kweisi Mfume's accomplishments -- and am sure others are, too -- changing the law just for him is wrong.

I have no doubt that Mr. Mfume cares about Baltimore, and he might make a good mayor. However, he gave up his right to run for any office in Baltimore City government when he moved to Baltimore County.

Changing the rules to assist or entice Mr. Mfume to run for mayor would be a big mistake that would come back to haunt voters in the future. It is almost as bad as the travesty by the Maryland Court of Appeals that allowed state Sen. Clarence Blount to remain on the ballot in the last election. After the ruling of the court, one does not have to live in Baltimore to run for city office.

I believe in home rule. Let Baltimore City residents govern Baltimore City residents.

Richard E. Hurley Jr., Baltimore

Utilities need more time to reduce emissions

Several Maryland environmental groups recently bought an inflammatory advertisement regarding Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Potomac Electric Power Co. and the environment. They seem to be stuck in the 1960s on their knowledge of utilities.

Since 1990, Pepco has spent more than $143 million -- more than any other mid-Atlantic utility -- on nitrogen oxide emission-control equipment to meet state and federal emission requirements. These improvements have reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 23,000 tons per year, or 33 percent.

And we are planning to do more. To meet new federal regulations requiring an 85 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions by 2003, we will spend up to an additional $173 million to install more control equipment. The 2003 compliance date allows Pepco the time to specify, purchase, design, build and test this new control equipment.

Last May 22, the Maryland Department of the Environmental (MDE) Air Management Administration issued guidelines that are separate from the federal mandate. The MDE regulations require power plants to reduce their emissions by 65 percent from their 1990 emission baseline by May 1. This rule conflicts with the federal rule (less reductions but quicker deadline), and the unrealistic date is four years earlier than the federal plan's. It would not give electric utilities enough time to build, install and test control equipment.

Since it is impossible for us to meet the deadline, Pepco and BGE have filed suit against MDE. This is the only method available to protect us from financial penalties and enforcement action.

James S. Potts, Washington

The writer is vice president, environment, at Pepco.

Kudos to photographer, processors for vivid photo

The photograph of two soccer players on the front page of the Jan. 9 Sports section is striking, vivid, almost three-dimensional.

Anyone who has fiddled with photography knows how difficult it is to get a print that good. The whites are white, The blacks black, the skin tone natural, the action has been stopped just enough, and the green of the tore seems saturated.

Give Gene Sweeney Jr. and all those who contributed to the processing and printing of that shot a pat on the back.

I have been reading The Sun since the days of streetcars and have been admiring good photography since I was a boy in South Baltimore. Thanks for bringing me the words and pictures of life. Keep up the good work.

John McQuade, Baltimore

United Nations and U.S. should help end slavery

I read the Opinion Commentary column "Slavery, sadly, alive and well in Sudan" (Jan. 5).

I had no idea that slavery still existed in the world. According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many of the horrible things that happened to 12-year old Theresa Nybol Deng are illegal.

There has to be a way that the United Nations or the United States can help the people of Sudan end slavery.

Zakira English, Baltimore

More testing is needed for pediatric medications

Contrary to Henry Miller's assertions in his Opinion Commentary article ("Kids and FDA drug trials? Not a good idea" Dec. 21), drug trials in children are long overdue.

Every day, pediatricians have no choice but to prescribe medications for our patients without testing them for use in children.

Only 20 percent of drugs are labeled for children's use.

Most parents are not aware that their children are likely receiving medications that have not been fully tested for pediatric use. This includes drugs used to treat common illnesses, such as asthma and infections.

Children are not little adults, and their bodies can have unpredictable responses to drugs that have not been tested for their use. What Dr. Miller refers to as a "nonproblem" could, in fact, become a major problem.

The arguments against drug studies offered by Dr. Miller ring hollow. Drug studies in children can be done safely and ethically.

These studies won't delay drug approvals for adults but will allow development of proper formulation and dosage for children.

Is the industry concerned about losing profit by conducting these studies? It shouldn't be; recent legislation provides financial incentives to drug companies to conduct pediatric studies. Besides, considering the millions of dollars generated by drug sales, shouldn't the industry make a small investment to keep our kids safe?

By law, the Food and Drug Administration requires that all drugs be tested for safe and effective use. It's time to include children's needs.

Dr. Joel J. Alpert, Washington

The writer is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

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